Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Thrills of Submarining

At left we have a submarine postcard ('U_Boot_Tag') published June 1917, in Munich. Recognize that old flag (Kaiserliche Marine War Ensign)?

Seldom have we seen one of the thrills of submarining, a rough surface transit, portrayed in such captivating detail. I remember our CO having Doc issue a mini-bottle of brandy, complete with FSN (federal stock number) on the label, to the bridge party on my last, winter, surface transit. Had the foresight to save my bottle until the last move.

The next to last line of M.E.'s previous posting was:

Enemy battleships have obviously not been the only vessels hazardous to submariners.

While we have been often reminded (USS Philadelphia, in 2005) of this hazard both historically (USS Greeneville, in 2001) and more recently (USS Newport News, 2007), rarely has there been better photographic depiction of the collision hazard, even between two vessels of the USN than the following:

In late May 1958, USS Stickleback (SS-415) was participating in an antisubmarine warfare exercises with Silverstein (DE-534) and a torpedo retriever boat about 14 miles NW of the entrance to Pearl. The exercises continued into the afternoon of May 29th when the submarine completed a simulated torpedo run on Silverstein. As Stickleback proceeded to depth, she lost power and broached some 200 yards ahead of the DE. Silverstein ordered all back full with hard left rudder, but holed the submarine on her port side. Stickleback's crew was removed by the retriever boat and efforts made by the Silverstein, Sabalo (SS-302), Sturtevant (DE-239), and Greenlet (ASR-10), to save the stricken submarine. Although rescue vessels put lines around her, Stickleback's compartments flooded successively and she sank at 18:57 in 1,800 fathoms of water. She was struck from the Naval Vessel Register on 30 June 1958.

Amazingly, the guy who took the photo from USS Douglas A. Munro was also aboard several months earlier when the Stickleback had accidently torpedoed her, according to this.

Although occasionally thrilling, submarines are always silent and strange.



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